MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte is rehearsing for his sixth and last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
“May rehearsal po si Presidente ngayon para sa SONA. Ito po ‘yung kauna-unahang rehearsal niya so naisapinal na po ang kaniyang talumpati (The President has rehearsal today for his SONA. This is his first rehearsal since his speech has already been finalized),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser.
Roque said possible changes in Duterte’s speech would depend on the President.
“Based on past SONAs, ayaw ni Presidente na binabagu-bago ‘yung kaniyang speech pero in the end, siya mismo ang nag-eedit as he rehearses (the President does not want changes in his speech but in the end, he’s editing it as he rehearses),” he said.
Just like last year, there will still be restrictions during the conduct of his last SONA because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Citing accomplishments, plans
Duterte’s SONA will focus on his administration’s accomplishments during his first five years in office, as well as his plans for the country in his last year, Roque said.
“Sasagutin niya ‘yung tanong na what and where we are now and looking forward doon sa huling panunungkulan ng ating Presidente (He will answer the question on what and where we are now, and [he will be] looking forward to his last year as president),” he said.
Duterte, Roque said, is also expected to give emphasis to the government’s social programs, infrastructure projects, peace and security initiatives, and foreign policy.
More Cabinet attendees
Roque said many members of the Cabinet are expected to attend Duterte’s last SONA at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.
This, after the House of Representatives confirmed that a maximum of 200 participants may be allowed to grace the annual event at the Batasang Pambansa on July 26 despite the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.
“Ang Gabinete po ay imbitado at inaasahan natin na karamihan sa miyembro ng Gabinete ay makakarating din po (The Cabinet is invited and many members of the Cabinet are expected to attend),” Roque said.
Roque said Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo has also been invited to physically attend Duterte’s last SONA.
“Ang alam ko po ay ang Bise Presidente ay binigyan ng imbitasyon ng Kamara kasi hindi po Malacañang ang nag-iimbita. Kami po ay guests diyan sa State-of-the-Nation Address (The House of Representatives also invited the vice President. It is not the Malacañang who gave the invitation because we are just guests at the State of the Nation Address),” he said.
The presidential family, members of Congress and their spouses, former presidents, foreign diplomats, government officials, and other dignitaries are usually invited to grace the annual SONA.
Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on July 12 announced that she will skip her father’s final SONA.
SONA attendees are still required to undergo rapid testing and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests and observe social distancing, House Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza on June 29 said.
Last year, attendees to Duterte’s SONA were mandated to undergo an RT-PCR test a day before the annual event to make sure that they are free from Covid-19.
Only government media would be allowed to cover Duterte’s last SONA at the Batasan complex, while private media would join remotely.
Presidential Security Group commander Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III on June 25 guaranteed a “smooth and safe” conduct of Duterte’s final SONA.
The Philippine National Police will deploy around 15,000 officers to secure Duterte’s SONA.
Article 7, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution requires the president to “address the Congress at the opening of its regular session.”
During his SONA, Duterte is expected to report the state of the country, unveil his administration’s agenda for his last year in office, and take the chance to ask Congress to pass his priority measures
The Philippine president delivers the SONA every year to report the state of the country, unveil his administration’s agenda for his last year in office, and take the chance to ask Congress to pass his priority measures. (PNA)